Vesper Sparrow

photo by Phil Swanson

Pooecetes gramineus
L 6 1/4″ (16 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Two introductory notes followed by 2 or 3 short higher trills, ending in variable rapid melody.

Description: Sexes similar. Streaked brown above; with streaked head, throat, and breast. Streaking across breast sometimes forms central spot. Dark ear patch bordered with white on lower and rear edges; white eye ring; lacks bold eyebrow. Short, notched tail with white outer tail feathers; two whitish wing bars. Distinctive chestnut shoulder patch is not easily seen in field.

Habitat: Frequently found in overgrown fields, prairie edges, and similar grassland habitats with scattered shrubs and low trees.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant across the state. Probably a regular summer resident north of Platte River.

Fun Facts: Vesper Sparrows respond well and quickly to changes in their habitat often being the first to arrive on reclaimed mine sites or new forests.

Additional Information: The common name is misleading (“vesper” in Latin means evening), as it does not sing more in the evening than other sparrows.

Vesper Sparrow - photo by Phil Swanson Vesper Sparrow - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)